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British Industrial History

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London Electrical Cab Co

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in Juxon Street, Lambeth in London were in business between 12 November 1896 to 8 August 1899.

Sometimes referred to as the London Electric Cab Co.

The cabs were known as 'Hummingbirds' because of the noise they made and their colour of black and yellow. Twenty-four were built by the Great Horseless Carriage Co with bodies by Mulliners, and then fifty by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Co.[1] Around eighty cabs were built.

1896 November. Prospectus. Share capital £150,000. Directors are H. R. Paterson; Reginald Brougham; H. H. Mulliner; Evelyn Ellis and J. H. Mace. Consulting engineers are Kincaid, Waller and Manville. Formed to place cabs (British Motor Syndicate patents) with concurrence from the Great Horseless Carriage Co. Each cab will have two sets of accumulators suitable forty miles on one charge. Electrical manager is W. C. Bersey.[2]

1897 August 19th. 'The vehicle itself does not call for much description, and the motor is mounted under the driver's seat, and gets its supply from accumulators slung under the bottom the cab. It urged by the Company that accumulators have so readily deteriorated in tramway traction because they have been made too light and the discharge has been above the normal. Thus, in a tramway car, the accumulator constitutes only one-fourth of the total weight, while these cabs they make up one-half, being 14 cwt., while the cab with passengers weighs only 30 cwt. So that, even ascending the steepest of London gradients, there will be little more than the normal discharge. The batteries are of 40 E.P.S. traction type, of 170 ampere hours' capacity when discharging at the rate 30 amperes, and it has been ascertained by test that this is sufficient for running 50 miles — about day's work — although not continuously at the highest speed. The motor of three horse-power is of the Johnson-Lundell type, with double-wound armature and double-wound fields, and drives the wheels through an endless chain gear. A special controller is fixed whereby four variations of speed are possible — the first starting the motor, the second giving it a speed of three miles hour, the third seven miles hour, and the fourth of nine miles an hour.'[3]

1897 August 20th. First cabs commenced operation.[4]

1897 August. Public inauguration. Detailed article and image. Chairman is H. H. Mulliner and main speaker was W. H. Preece.[5]

1897 The London Electric Cab Co began regular service using cars designed by Walter Bersey. The Bersey Cab, which used a 40-cell battery and 3 horsepower electric motor, could be driven 50 miles between charges. [6]

1897 September. Report of its success [7]

1897 September. Schoolboy Stephen Kempton, age 9, dies in Stockmar Road, Hackney, after being caught in the cog wheels of the motor.[8]

1897 Walter C. Bersey was general manager[9]

1898 January 25th. Prospectus. Share capital £150,000. Directors are H. H. Mulliner; H. R. Paterson; Reginald Brougham; Evelyn Ellis and J. H. Mace. Consulting engineers are Kincaid, Waller and Manville. Company was formed in 1896 and the time has been spent in acquiring premises and fitting out. Mentions some cabs on the street (currently over 10,000 licensed Hanson's in the city). Have sole licence for the Johnson and Lundell Motors with Series Parallel Controller Patents.'[10]

1898 December. 3rd AGM. 71 cabs in operation. Report of meeting. William M. Hodges is secretary. Mentions shareholder Walter Dangerfield and also D. G. West and F. St. John Thompson.[11][12]

1899 February. Letter from Walter C. Bersey of the London Electrical Cab Co. States that since August 1897 (five months) that there cabs have covered over 500,000 miles. Cabs weigh 32cwt and cover 40 miles on one charge at a speed of 9mph.[13]

1899 Claim to have eighty carriages ready for use.[14]

1900 July. Petition to wind up the company. Long list of creditors.[15]

There is an interesting British Movietone News clip from 1896 showing a horseless carriage - might this be an electric vehicle as it doesn't look like other types? See [1]

See Also


Sources of Information